February 26, 2008

Why Practice and How to do it if you figure that out

I put this here because there are a few points that I could derive on how to practice that is pertinent to the practice of any subject. Although I am a Music Education major some of these concepts can be used when studying Japanese, go ahead you find a few.

Why practice? To get better, of course!
It's never too late to take a good look at your practice routine and habits to see how you can improve in these areas.
Find a comfortable, well-lit, quiet place to practice. No TV!,
Use a mirror to visually check your technique.
Use a tape recorder to aurally check your playing.
"Chunking" Find a compact, coherent musical idea - say, four measures long. Play it until you know it thoroughly. Try it without the music, then with it again. Once you've played it without the music and know it sounds right, add the next musical idea. Repeat the strategy and string them together as you go. While you're "chunking", it may be helpful to make use of the "three-times" rule. If you can play a segment from memory three times in a row with no mistakes, you know you're ready to move on to the next one.
If you come across a run that never sounds right, look it over as a unit as well as note by note. Is it major, minor, diminished (half-step/whole-step or whole-step/half-step), chromatic, or almost chromatic? Once you figure out what the run is made up of, it will be easier for you to apply the technique you already know to it and conquer it. If a run has a lot of leaps between notes, look for a pattern. Are there chromatic notes or accidentals throwing you off?
Hopefully you have access to a metronome - use it!
When trying a new technique or correcting an incorrect technique, try practicing in the dark or with your eyes closed, and concentrate on how your muscles feel when doing the technique properly.
Remember to keep muscles relaxed and loose. Relaxation and breathing exercises prior to the start of a practice session can be especially helpful.
Don't make the mistake of repeating passages over and over, continuing to make the same mistakes. You're only furthering the problem by practicing the mistake!
· Slow it down ...
· Think about it ...
· Analyze why it's difficult for you ...
· Figure out what you need to do differently to solve the problem.
· Then, practice the solution! Learn to quit when your mind and your muscles become tired. You want to sound better. So, above all, remember to listen. And make your judgements and adjustments based on what you hear.